An amazing visit to the State of the Art – Umweltbundesamt (UBA), Dessau

Indeed… the structure of UBA building was the state of the art!

On February 28, 2019, 22 explorers from 22 different countries reached Dessau – a town at the junction of the rivers Mulde and Elbe in the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. We were all excited for our first over-night stay excursion to UBA, but have never thought to see such a higher environmental standard in construction and operation of a scientific building in a small town – Dessau. Incredible eco-friendly architecture, innovative landscape design, energy efficient structure and a blend of seven families of color, the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA) in Dessau was undoubtedly an amazing place to explore.

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Just besides the old Wörlitzer Bahnof, one can see a gateway to the a snake shape UBA building on the right side and a stand-alone canteen, a public park, yew sculpture, crossword puzzle, distinct boulders and a fascinating pond with nesting boxes, hotel for insects and home for beautiful ducks, on the left side.

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Before entering to the UBA building, a group photo of the exciting faces was necessary.

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It is very difficult to decide that what was the first attraction for all of us while entering the building auditorium. Was it the beautiful glass shed roof, colorful facades, environmental library, wind node booth or the LCD screen with photovoltaic system dash board. An interesting fact of this auditorium was that anyone could enter into that area without any prior appointment to observe the beauty of the building and gain access to the biggest environmental library of German speaking world.

After exploring these amazing features of the Auditorium, we finally moved towards the conference room for a series of lectures. But wait, an interesting feature yet to be explored here was ‘the LCD screen traces’ left by the visitors, symbolizing the changeable influence on the world. Another eye-catching art!

The two days, full of knowledge exchange covered some thought-provoking themes such as climate change adaptation, water resource management, green economy, energy transition and so on. The day started with a presentation on UBA ‘Who we are and what we do?’ by Mr. Wollmann. It was very interesting to know that UBA is a Germany’s central administrative authority and is the state’s largest scientific agency with over 1,400 employees at 13 different locations. In addition to the scientific work, the agency enforces environmental laws and work for public disclosure and facilitates access to information. It was very impressive to see the many environmental problems UBA manages! The next presentation was by Ms. Schwetje who introduced us with a concept of short-lived climate pollutants and gave an overview of an ongoing initiative of Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to reduce these pollutants. It was new to most of us that many of our countries are already part of this coalition. At the end of her presentation, she highlighted the resource and climate protection through integrated waste management projects in developing countries, which led to an interactive questions and answers session. Afterwards, we went to the beautiful canteen of UBA to recharge our body and mind. Adaptation to Climate Change, Hazard Prevention and Safety of Installations and Water Resource Management were the post-lunch sessions by Mr. Haße, Mr. Winkelmann-Oei and Mr. Bernd respectively, which provided us a bunch of useful information and potential solutions for our countries. The day did not end here! All of us met for a lovely dinner and chatted extensively on how much we learnt. Next day, we continued our journey of learning more.

How can green economy contribute to sustainable development is a much spoken debate now a days. Mr. Bünger, in his presentation, highlighted the concepts of Green Transformation and Green Skills in context of economy and environment. He also introduced the six green lead markets in Germany and strategies to promote green economy. This important lecture could not have ended without having questions from the participants. When we talk about sustainability, Resource Utilization is an important topic to be discussed. Mr. Nuss highlighted this concept through some global facts and figures. The best part of this presentation was to know about the Material Flow Assessment of the respective countries of all participants. Thanks to Mr. Nuss for bringing up this issue on board. Policy plays an important role in balancing social, environmental and economic activities in order to foster sustainable development. Considering this crucial role of policy making, Ms. Schubert presented the role of UBA as an actor of federal policy for sustainable urban development and share the concept of Tomorrow’s Cities. After having Lunch at UBA canteen, we all gathered for a guided tour of UBA building. I must say that this was the most awaited session of our visit. Thanks to Mr. Bösecke who managed to answer a ton of questions of all participants. Why the small town Dessau was chosen for UBA office was something we all wanted to know. The famous quote of Winston Churchil “we shape our building, and they shape us” is probably the best answer for it. The UBA building is currently situated on a former industrial area of Dessau which was highly contaminated by volatile halogenated and petroleum hydrocarbons. Soil and ground water remediation, ecofriendly construction and liveable working space gives impressive example of possibilities (and challenges) for sustainable urban development. Our excitement did not end here. Mr. Bösecke showed us impressive working environment for employees, green spaces, beautiful plants and trees, and two water basins while walking through communicating staircases and bridges. We were amazed to see that everything in the UBA building had a message to convey. Water ponds helped to reflect sunlight and provide a pleasant acoustic background music. Amorphous green areas with a bed of mineral substrate maintained indoor climate for plant growth whereas flooring of recyclable glass showed the artistic use of waste. The entire building was designed keeping in mind the accessibility. Moreover, the seven colors of facades are also symbolize sky (blue), greenery (shades of green) and old building’s brickwork (purple-red). The use of solar heat collectors, photovoltaic system and the geo thermal heat exchanger along with district heating system was also state of the art.

Last but not the least, the day ended with an energizing presentation by Mr. Werlein on Energy Transition in Germany. It was indeed a wonderful excursion which we will never forget. Special thanks to CIPSEM for organizing such a fun trip filled with knowledge.

by Saba Raffay (Pakistan) and Oleksandra Logunova (Ukraine)

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German Environment Agency (UBA) – back again

On April 12th and 13th we visited the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA). It was founded in 1974 and its mission is to protect citizens from environmental influences and the environment from external damages. On our first day, we were welcomed by Mr. Ralph Wollmann, who introduced us to the main objectives of UBA. After that, we had detailed lectures and discussions about environmental perspectives of Germany. The topics were related to energy transition, adaptation to climate change, transboundary water pollution and water resources management.

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Mr. Max Werlein started the first presentation about guidelines for political action in energy transition, which included economic efficiency, supply security, and environmental capability. The next lecture was given by Clemens Haβen which was about adaptation to climate change in Germany and was focused on the role of UBA on policy adaptation and policy cycle, as well as the impacts and consequences of climate change. After that, Mr. Gerd Winkelmann-Oei explained us about protection strategies of transboundary water pollution in Germany. The main topic was on crisis management of hazardous activities in European rivers and the tasks done by the International River Commission. The presentations were ended with a brief lecture about water resource management by Mr. Bernd Kirschbaum and were started by introducing us to general information and short overview about water use and climate. Besides, he presented about wastewater treatment and chemicals status of the surface in Germany. Finally, he pointed out the main problems and new issues of water resources management. This long and enriching day was completed with a short visit to the historical Bauhaus building and a delicious dinner at the fancy Radisson hotel in Dessau.

The second day began with a relaxing breakfast. Then, the first lecture was about sustainable development and green economy by Mr. Bjӧrn Bünger by which details were mainly on inevitable transformation to green economy and the current requirements of changes in consumption and production. He also added that the growth of green markets is a precondition for the green economy. The second lecture of the day was focused on international chemical management by Ms. Johanna Rose/Mr. Hans-Christian Stolzenberg and the lectures and discussions were on the need for global action on chemicals, chemical management at a global, regional and national level as well as actions taken. After lunch we made a short guided tour of UBA building with Mr. Max Bӧsecke. Finally, a short presentation and a case study in Costa Rica about tourism and environment were given by Ms. Ulrike Wachotsch.

For us, as reporters and CIPSEM fellows, the main purpose of this excursion was to understand German experience in environmental research and strategies proposals for policies; to make networking with government agency and scientists, and to improve our professional skills in environmental management.

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the authors: Ms. Lourdes Amparo Lares Acero, Peru (right) & Mr. Fisseha “Fish” Berhe Halefom, Ethiopia (left)

Exploring resource efficiency in Dessau

The participants of the 73rd UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Resource Efficiency – Cleaner Production and Waste Management have received a warm welcome at the German Environment Agency in Dessau… as well as lots of input with regard to the topic of our training programme. Please see the image caption for details.

Another knowledge-search excursion to the German Environment Agency (UBA)

by Ms. Kebaabetswe Keoagile (Botswana)

It all started with the admiration of the main building. One would have thought it’s a business building; it is a piece of architectural beauty indeed!

 

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Picture by Bendicto Kabiito, Uganda

That was on the 11 th and 12 th of May, 2017 when CIPSEM EM40 participants had an excursion to the German Environment Agency (UBA) in Dessau. The Agency is Germany’s central federal authority on environmental matters. According to their website and other websites, there have three main functions.

Its key statutory mandates are:

  • To provide scientific support to the Federal Government (e.g.. the Federal Ministries for Environment; Health; Research; Transport, Building and Urban Affairs);
  • Implementation of environmental laws (e.g. emissions trading, authorisation of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and plant protection agents)
  • Information of the public about environmental protection.
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Introduction to UBA (Photo by Andre Lindner)

 

Different topics were presented, graced questions and discussions from the participants. The agenda for sustainable development 2030 was of great importance to generate insights into topics such as Sustainable development, green economy, sustainable resource use, and resource efficiency. Presenters were insightful about the need for action regarding transitioning to green economy. Population growth, high economic growth in developing countries, increasing fluctuating energy resources prices were cited as reasons for action.

And with these actions they are benefits that can be derived and the presenter covered: business opportunities, job creation, less environmental change hence higher welfare and quality of life, less dependency on energy imports and less use of resources, to name a few.

In the discussions, green economy was being viewed an aspect of sustainable development.

It also emerged through the discussions that sustainable development is an overarching vision while green economy gives shape to sustainable development, however, it does not fully address social issues.

It was important for us to learn that Germany has sustainability strategies which include resource efficiency policy and national strategy for sustainable development which were updated in 2016 for alignment the Sustainable Development Goals.

As the day progressed, the Dr. Uwe Leprich, Head of Department under Climate Protection and Energy unit, welcomed us to the Agency and introduced the two alumni of the CIPSEM Programme: Ms Rachel Boti-Douayoua (a 2015 CIPSEM participant) and Prof. Dr. Bert Kohlmann (a 1981 participant). The two gave interesting presentations about their experiences during the course. The latter noted that environmental issues by that time included ecological change, soil pollution, ozone layer depletion and air pollution, as opposed to climate change. His valuable experiences included making friends who were resourceful for his subsequent collaborations and project work. His projects were more into what he studied during the course (renewable energy and bio monitoring) and currently embarking on renewable energy projects as part of the transition to green economy.

Ms Boti-Douayoua also gave insights into her current work of which she managed to integrate what she learnt from the course on carbon credits. This was evident that indeed the course reaches its objectives of skilling and enriching participants.

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Professor Dr Bert Kohlmann (CIPSEM Alumnus -1981, photo by Dr. André Lindner)
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Ms Rachel Boti-Douayoua (CIPSEM Alumna -2015, Photo by Dr. André Lindner)

The participants had a relaxed evening and informally continued discussions about the day’s events at a joint dinner at the NH-Hotel (courtesy of CIPSEM secretariat). Some participants had a night-walk within the city centre to appreciate its beauty thereafter. Thanks to CIPSEM invite!

Day 2 was the day to get the practical part of the issues previously identified, with aid of cases from Germany. The topics of the day ranged from climate change priorities, adaptation and institutionalisation, to waste electrical and electronic equipment management and the strategic and environmental impact assessments. Thanks to the presenters for the knowledge share with or imparted onto the participants on the above areas. The participants engaged the presenters through discussions.

At the end one will say it was still clear that the challenge is putting theory into action remains critical in many spheres. One example of such challenges was the comment from a participant on the amount of work done on the environmental issues especially climate change, the results of which are not yet realized.

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Ms Judith Voss-Stemping (presentation on international Climate Protection-Priorities and institutionalization in Germany, photo by Dr. Anna Görner).

Implementation! Implementation! Implementation!

SC 69: Excursion to Dessau (German Environment Agency and Bauhaus)

By Adedoyin A. Adeleke (Nigeria)

It’s been learning and exciting time at CIPSEM since our course began. The diverse backgrounds of the 21 participants from 19 countries in the course have provided enriching insights on energy profiles (including their cultures) through the country reports. We have also had introductory lectures on renewable energy and energy efficiency which altogether have provided insights on trends, technologies and the policies driving them in Germany.
Then it was time to do some site visits, this time the German Environmental Agency headquarters in Dessau!  The about two and half hours’ journey by train provided opportunity to pass through other cities of Germany as well as villages. We realized that its global leadership in renewable energy, Germany also has fertile and expanse of land for agriculture.
On arrival at the Agency, we were taken on a guided tour round the building. What initially appeared to be a demonstration of architectural and artistic expertise would soon become a blend of arts and architectural design in a “model green building”. Our guide provided detailed explanations on the various designs and parts of the building as it relates to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

From the Agency, we proceeded to the world famous home of harmony of arts and craft, the Bauhaus in Dessau! We had another guided tour of the building and learned of its legacy in architecture since the 20th century. The 90-year old building which was a masterpiece in the 20th century architecture was designed in 1925 by Walter Gropius, a professor and an architect. The building was was unique with its glass wall, flat roofs and the no-main view design of the building which were peculiar at the time. The Bauhaus appears to be more than design but also a philosophy that pushed design on a new course: the Bauhaus provides an interface between User Experience, Sustainability and Innovation in building design.  From the Bauhaus, we retired to the hotel for dinner and night rest, courtesy of CIPSEM.
Next day, we had five insightful presentations at the German Environmental Agency (UBA). First was an introduction to the operation of the Agency.  It was exciting to learn of the reason for the location of the headquarter office of the UBA in Dessau instead of Berlin, the capital. We learned that all second place government institutions were asked to move to the interior to facilitate infrastructural development in 2004. Among other responsibilities, the agency supports Federal ministry for the environment, Nature conservation Building, and Nuclear safety (BMUB) and the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi)  “by providing scientific knowledge on energy questions and issues such as renewable energy”, collecting data, educating the public, implementing statutory provisions, among others. Thanks to Dr. Benno Hain for his presentation.
In his second presentation, Dr. Hain discussed policy and the institutional framework for Climate mitigation strategies and scenarios in Germany. He introduced the three levels of policy drivers for climate change in Germany: national (Energy Concept of Germany), regional (Climate and Energy Package of the EU28) and the global (International Climate Policy, UNFCCC). Very insightful!
Next was a presentation on the various bioenergy applications and their roles in sustainable development.  Jan Seven emphasized that though the use of bioenergy (traditional) is an ancient practice, their inefficient use results in resource depletion, air pollution and labour shortage.  He also itemized the risks and opportunities associated with modern bioenergy. According to him, averting the risks while taking advantage of the opportunities requires changes in current practices and strategies. Further, he discussed UBA’s activities for sustainable bioenergy development and support for the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP).
Max Werlein also made a presentation on the “Energy Transition in Germany”.  He discussed the concept “Energiewende”, targets and the three policy goals driving it: economic efficiency, security of supply, and environmental compatibility.  After the lunch break, we had the last presentation by Jens Schuberth: “Policies for energy saving”.  Jens discussed the prospects and challenges of sustainable use of energy and energy efficient products. His lecture also provided insights on policies and strategies for promoting the construction of energy efficient buildings in Germany.
Overall, the excursion provided insights on the German energy system, targets and the policies drivers. Thanks to CIPSEM for facilitating the visit and special thanks for Andre for leading us on the trip!

Excursion to the German Environment Agency (UBA)

Our CIPSEM journey continued from 18th to 19th of May 2016 in the city of Dessau. The visit to the German Environment Agency (UBA) began with an introduction and welcome speech by Mr. Ralph Wollmann, who gave background information about the history of the German Environment Agency and explained its participation and contribution to CIPSEM courses. Furthermore Mr. Wollmann talked about the role of UBA in the german society and the international community.

Following up were interactive sessions on several topics from the manifold portfolio of the agency. Among others there were talks on water resources management and climate change adaptation in Germany, transboundary movement of waste, environmental risk regulation of pesticides, green economy and much more.

The stay in Dessau was furthermore accompanied guided tours through the price winning main building of UBA and the world famous Bauhaus.

Report and photographs by Hisham Abdelgawad (Egypt)

Visit at the Federal Environment Agency

After a guided tour through the main building of the ‘Umweltbundesamt’ (UBA), the group participated in an multidisciplinary session with UBA experts. Lots of questions were asked about land-take, sustainable land-use, soil protection, the Sustainable Development Goals, and Risk Assessment of contaminants.

Besides a visit at the Bauhaus Museum, a former art school and the Dessauer Kartoffelhaus were also on the schedule.

(Photos: T. Karp)